A Tasmanian contribution…..

My first Big Overnight Trip has been completed…..Roz, Keith, Ruth and I had spent some time deciding a suitable route for this inaugural expedition , departure time, a respectable 9am, with stop enroute for coffee (they didn’t want to put me off from the start) and last minute food purchases ….more of that later. We arrived at our proper departure point, Cockle Creek , approximately 1300 hrs, about 2 and a half hour drive SW from Hobart. Plan was to eat our pack lunch at Cockle Creek before actually setting off properly – to lighten the load from the beginning. This caused some slight consternation when Ruth and I realised that due to an element of poor communication between the four of us neither Ruth nor I had brought any lunch!! Fortunately Roz is a gourmet picnic connoisseur and had more than enough supplies for us both not to starve from the outset and require ration adjustments from Zero Hour! So fortified with an ample sized chicken, brie, sundried tomato and pepper (I said gourmet!) sandwich – we must try this “oh dear we have forgotten our lunch” line more often! The pack hoisted onto shoulders and tightened around hips – the tighter the better apparently, think corsets, small intakes of breath and restrictive step lengths – ideal for increased physical exercise as you can imagine! We set off!

The “walk in” was a mere four hours according to the guide book, and infact Roz and Keith had completed the whole walk – there and back in one day previously, 22km, about 8 hours. We had decided to do it as an overnight trip, to break me in gently to the Big Pack thing, so I was fairly confident it would be okay. The first couple of hours , once adjusted to weight and increased size of Ruck Sack – all of about 12kg max for me (yes, I know hardly heavy for all you big strong folk but I am well ….I ‘ll let you fill in the gap! ) , compared to Ruth and R and K probable 20kg+ as they were carrying the tents and as already mentioned copious volumes of food, were relatively straightforward. Reasonably level ground, some of which was board walk – a popular Tasmanian invention, (always reassuring for navigationally challenged walkers like myself, as no doubt of missing the route!) Passing us in the other direction were many young guys with surf boards slung under their arms, South Cape Bay, our first destination is a popular spot for keen surfers – if you can brave the Southern Ocean temperatures and are prepared for long walk to the beach. The route is also the first section (or last depending on where you start) of the South Coast Track – this is a 5-6 multiday walk (for next time!) , so some people may have thought from the size our packs that we were setting off for the whole thing – we didn’t like to disappoint them. So eventually, hips beginning to complain , general weariness setting in, we arrived at South Cape Bay to have our (my at least!) spirits lifted by the sight of fit looking guys changing out of their wetsuits preparing for their walk out back to the car park. As we were reviving ourselves, with the view (!) and a welcome snack – provided of course by Roz, we looked along the beach – which is pretty isolated as you can imagine , and Ruth laughs and jumps up ( pack on the ground!) to say hello to some friends! Ruth is known, internationally it would seem, for meeting friends and acquaintances by chance at airports or far flung destinations around the world and so it was hardly surprising that we should come across two of her friends on a remote SW Tasmanian beach! So after chatting and catching up with them for a while we continued on …Keith conscious of time and available light to pitch tent and me just dreaming of rest! The second half of the walk, involved a slight incline up inland away from the beach, to avoid being dashed against the rocks in high tide ….this route proved to be extremely muddy, slippery, squelchy, and gloopy, dragging you back down every step of the way….fun! After what seemed an eternity we did arrive at South Cape Rivulet and found a small patch of ground in amongst trees to pitch our tents. Fortunately, the weather was incredibly mild, dry and still , the tent is a super lightweight, easily assembled , small domelike structure with two open flaps either side and just room to lay out two sleeping bags side by side.

Dinner continued to live up to Roz’s high culinary standards, Pringles to start, Moroocan Lamb, Couscous and snow peas for main, sticky date pudding with freshly made (on the primus) caramel sauce all washed down with a tin mug or two of red wine ! Yes, part of my weight limit included an ecofriendly tetra pack of cabernet sauvignon! We have to get our priorities right!) So relaxed , warmed and buoyed up with my latest Tasmanian experience I collapsed into my sleeping bag for the night….my sleeping bag was bought to survive nights at high altitude for the Inca Trail , subzero temperatures, snow on the ground, whistling wind….usual Tassie weather I have since discovered… I have been cold indoors in this sleeping bag previously, but this weekend , freak warm weather had hit the SW Coast and I was boiling…..sheer exhaustion eventually won and I spent a fairly fitful night under canvas. Waking in the morning was swiftly followed by a self conducted complete anatomical survey discovering which part of my body didn’t hurt!! I decided after many pathetic squeaks and moans, that my hands felt fine!! Jolly good, at least I could tie my boot laces!

After breakfast and that all important cup of tea we broke camp and set off for the return trek. The thought of retracing our steps through the River of Mud did not initially fill us with great excitement, but fortunately or miraculously , the mud did not seem so bad second time around – there is probably a sermon in there somewhere – but not for today! The South Cape Bay was bereft of hardy surfers this time , swirls and squalls of rain and spray could be seen lashing the South East Cape ( Australia’s most Southerly point) , luckily for us , these seemed to dissipate before they actually hit us, so we had a dry walk. Another delicious lunch was rustled up from the depths of Roz’s back pack and we arrived safe and sound back at the car about 4pm. Roz, Ruth and myself were asleep in seconds , Keith afterwards commented that it had been like driving a hearse back to Hobart! No Tasmanian trip would be complete without a stop off at Fish Frenzy – the best fish and chip restaurant this side of the equator , and the staff have become pretty used to us arriving looking bedraggled and hungry! That night …..You are expecting me to say I slept like a log, only rousing 12 hours later to a loud cymbal being crashed in my ear. But alas if only that had been the case ….I had to go to work on a night shift! And yes, I was absolutely shattered! I am now finally recovering lying on the sofa, wondering how I will manage the next adventure which will be a notch or two up the endurance level of this tame introduction I fear……

Anita – October 2009

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